Us3

Questions

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You remember Us3 -- they had a huge club hit in 1994 with their acid jazz appropriation of Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," which they muscled up with modern beats and samples and titled "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)." That single gave the venerable Blue Note label its first-ever platinum album. Subsequent releases made less of a commercial impact, and the original Us3 duo of Geoff Wilkinson and Mel Simpson eventually fell apart. Now Wilkinson is working solo and releasing music on his own label, but his love of classic funk, old-school jazz and up-to-the-minute turntablism remains as strong as ever. Questions is full of strutting hip-hop Cubanisms ("Whatcha Gonna Do?"), jazzy conscious rap ("What Does That Mean?"), slow-simmering Latin funk ("Goodbye"), and even a couple of affectionate looks back at that one big hit single ("Cantaloop 2004: Bossa Mix" and "Soul Mix"). Interestingly, all of the music on this album was played live -- no samples at all -- a major departure for an artist who has always made such productive use of classic jazz samples. You won't miss them, though: apart from the pop-psych vapidity of the lyrics on "Believe in Yourself" and the generally lackluster "The Truth," everything on Questions is guaranteed to get folks at your next party winding their waists and spilling their drinks. Highly recommended.

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